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What is Usage?

Lesson 31 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

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Lesson Info

31. What is Usage?


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Get Work As A Food Photographer


Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market


How To Grow Your Business


Opportunities In Commercial Food Photography


How Do You Market Yourself


The Importance of Attitude and Communication


Understanding Insurance Responsibilities and Liability


Lesson Info

What is Usage?

And we've kind of started to address the idea of what usage actually is, right. We started talking about how we're going to use those photos, in what venue, and for how long, right. And that's really how easy that is. But again how are we working that into our flat rate system, particularly with things like cookbooks? Because cookbooks are a unique entity in that if a cookbook really takes off and goes into multiple printings, starts printing overseas in different languages, all of those things, you're not really being compensated for those things. And it's very unlikely that you're going to be able to negotiate a deal until you have some kind of real stature in the industry and have a proven track record of 10 cookbooks on the New York Times bestseller list, or something crazy like that. But the idea of that is, you know that going in. So if you, and I bring this up not because I think it's a negotiation point for you, but I bring it up because I want you to be aware that in the contr...

acts that you're gonna read about cookbooks, it's gonna mention multiple printings and printings in other languages. It's not really a negotiation point for most of us. I mean, the idea is, you're gonna get paid what you're gonna get paid, so take that into account too, when you're building a flat rate, that if this book really takes off, there's no more money in it for you. It may raise your stature more in the industry, and your name will be out there more and maybe other publishers will want to use you because you photographed a book that has done very, very well. But be aware that, build those kind of expectations into your flat rates when you're doing that. And again, when I work in cookbooks, I work per recipe. And I create that structure, just like I do for editorial. I create a per recipe structure that includes, and a simple way to do it is, okay, what's the top end for a food stylist? Let's say a thousand bucks, right, or 1250. And I divide that over how many days is it gonna take, or I multiply it by how many days this job's gonna take. Okay, so, I got a five day job, so let's say, I'm gonna budget about five grand for food styling. All right, that's gotta go into, then I divide that by, you know, and I add that in to the line item, then I put my creative fee in there, put that on there, put the studio fee, put it all. Get it all there, get a whole number, divide it by five, not five, I'm sorry, divide it by 20, 30, 40, 50, however many recipes we're doing, and there's your price. Right, that's the math problem. Understand the market, know what people cost, plug all the numbers in, divide by how many recipes you have, and now all of a sudden you start to look at that number and you say, I can either bump that up a little bit or push it down a little bit to make it fit. But this is my baseline. It is ultimately only math, but you also have to remember that your math and my math might be different. So as long as you understand your price structure, in your market, with the people who are around you, what a stylist costs, what you're willing to pay them. And then, here's the thing, if you have stylists that you like to work with who don't need to be paid that much money, you can still use the number to build into your cost so that you can make a little bit more money as the creative and as the person who is putting together the whole production. So that's where your markup comes in. Because you can justify $1,000 a day for a stylist, doesn't mean you have to pay $1,000 a day for stylist. If you can get somebody to work for 750, you're 250 a day in the good towards your production. It's not about cutting people's knees out from under them, it's just that you may not have any stylists in your region that make that kind of money. You call up a stylist and say, "What's your day rate?" And they say, "For cookbooks it costs 500 a day." And you say, "Okay." And you're already budgeted for 1,000 a day, so you're already in the good. So that's the benefit of understanding the price structure nationally, and then understanding how to apply it regionally, and then calling up a food stylist tomorrow, homework, in your region and asking them what they cost. You don't have to have a job to offer them right now, you just need to know what they cost. What's your rate? They say, "Yeah, my rate is 750 a day." Ok, great, I put that in my book, I know what they cost. Call up another food stylist. You start to get a sense. Everybody in this region charges about this much money. It's only homework. And that's where you are able to start to do the math. Call up the studios in your neighborhood or your region, and say, "How much does a studio kitchen cost?" Go there and scout that place. See if it's something you want to work in. Then all of a sudden you realize, well the studio that's 700 a day isn't gonna work for me, but the one that's a thousand a day will. Now you know that you need to budget a thousand a day because that's the one that works into your workflow, and now you have that part of your budget already worked out. And we've talked a little bit about buyouts and terms already, right. We talked about this in the earliest part of the idea of usage, from the advertising perspective. We don't really talk about usage in editorial, and we certainly don't really talk about it much in publishing either. It's implied that they're gonna be able to use those pictures. And here's the way I structure contracts for cookbooks. You own the rights to the images, the rights to the images, in perpetuity, for use of this cookbook and promotion of this cookbook, wherever that might be, meaning overseas, different languages, whatever. But it ends, when that book project is over, those images only live to support that project, and I own the copyright. I also usually tell people I will put a moratorium on, or an embargo on those images for as long as the book is in regular circulation. And then once the book is really not on the shelves anymore, then I am free to use those images as I wish. And that usually works out just fine. Because once the book's not in regular circulation anymore, nobody's gonna know that that picture appeared in a cookbook five years ago. If it's a good picture and it's appropriate in stock, or you wanna use it for another project, still your picture. So you don't, you make sure that that work for hire designation doesn't apply when you do a cookbook, but you make concessions on it. They want work for hire, they all do. But what you say is, you're getting what you want, but I still own my copyright. And that's all you want in that situation. And that's part of the usage, kind of, conversation, is you're still just licensing the pictures. You just happen to be licensing them forever, but you're just licensing them, but you've already paid for it and I'm not gonna reuse those images in any way that's gonna conflict with your project. And as long as you've expressed that, and put that into the contract, most people are completely fine with that, until you start dealing with huge corporations, like the top five corporations in the world, when it comes to doing this type of stuff. Then you start to enter into contracts that's like, you know, 75 pages long that you need, you know, three law degrees to read. Then you just sign it and take the money and go home, because there's just no getting around it. If you want to work for certain companies, you just gotta sign the contract and move on. But knowing this, they're also so big, they're never coming after you if you put the picture somewhere else. They're never gonna know, there's nobody monitoring that stuff either. So it's not like, it's, there's the right things to do, and then there's reality, and then there's the things you agree to, and then there's reality. And reality is that nobody's coming after photographers for reusing a picture that appeared in a cookbook five years ago, nobody's doing that. And if they do, you get a cease and desist letter, and then you take the picture down or whatever, you know. No one's going to court over that. So just be mindful of that too. Don't be so frightened by the contracts. They talk tough, but they don't really mean much. When you're hired for a shoot, do you take into consideration the circulation? No. Those other things that usually come with... No, no, because again, with a magazine, they're gonna tell you what they're gonna pay. Okay. Yeah, there's no wiggle room on that. I'm mean, unless you're a super famous journalist, like a journalistic, you know, photo journalist, you're not gonna get a whole lot of leeway with negotiating price with a magazine. I mean you will when it comes to negotiating production, and saying, this is what it's going to cost to produce a food shoot, because there's all those other pieces, and then there's ways to kind of make money in the cracks. But as far as a straight up day rate, there's no, there's really no movement on that for most part. Cool. Yeah. And Joann would like to know, do you, and if you do, how do you monitor your licensed images are used? When you have imagery that goes out in advertising, really that's the only ones you have to monitor, for the most part. If you have representation, that's their job, is to check in with clients when licenses run out. So for example, I had, and honestly the agency is in charge of that too, so it's not, cause essentially it's the client's responsibility. And the agency makes money on resale. So if they're re-upping a license, the agency's getting a piece of that, they're adding a mark up onto that. So they actually will monitor that, so that when a license comes up on an image that you did two years ago, and all of a sudden, you got a check from the advertising agency, it's because that company negotiated a re-up on those pictures. The agency got their piece, and they sent you a check. So, a lot of it is on cruise control. Now I've had situations where I privately sold to a smaller online company, like, let's say, I actually sold a picture to one time. And they used it on their webpage. And I gave them a two year license on the picture. And two years went by. And I had in on my calendar, or I had a list that I kept in my computer, of things that I had sold and when the licenses ran out. And it pops up. To their credit, three days before that license ran out, they re-upped, on their own, without any prompting, so. That's great. Kudos to Great, but that's good for us to know is that you, how you manage that, right. Sometimes you will put in calendar events, and two years from now, it seems weird, but... Sure, it is. But the thing is is that... Future Andrew... There's this guy there he's, you know, sitting there looking at his licensing agreements, "They owe me money, they better pay on time." (light laughter) So they're gonna be, you need to be organized about those things, and if you have those kind of arrangements with smaller clients, and you're offering them licensing agreements, then you just gotta keep documents on hand and in your calendars that let you know when those licenses run out. You send an email, hey your license has run out. Would you like to re-up for the picture? It will cost you this much money. And if not, please take it down or whatever if you're still using it. And that's it.

Ratings and Reviews


I highly recommend this course! Andrew is an engaging and thoroughly knowledgable teacher. This class is less about how to photograph food - although there are some terrific tips - and more about the "nuts and bolts" or rather, "bread and butter" of running a successful business. A lot of the information is relevant to business in general, but the specific tips about food photography are especially exciting to implement! I found the hands-on portion during the morning of day 2 especially helpful in assimilating the general or more abstract ideas covered in day 1, which laid a fantastic foundation. 5 stars!

Delaney Brown

Andrew is not only a funny, incredibly entertaining person, he's a seriously great teacher. Being in the live studio audience for this class was such a treat. I was able to learn a lot of the nitty gritty lived-in details of what it takes to be a successful food photographer. Things that are hard to come by in books and online! I would highly recommend this class for anyone who wants to take their passion to the next step: making a living.

Amy Vaughn

While I'm not quite ready to focus my business on food photography, this class gave me a much clearer idea of what options and challenges there are in the food photography industry. Andrew covered everything from what jobs might be like when starting out on a tight budget to what options open up as the photographer becomes more experienced and successful. I already did my own internet research about the food photography business before the class, but this was more comprehensive and easy to understand in a short amount of time. Now I feel more confident about setting my business goals, who to look for to collaborate with on projects and eventually the kinds of clients I'd like to work with. He also gave many tips that are immediately applicable in my current photography business that isn't yet focused on food.

Student Work